Ready to get started? Here are five questions to ask your technology partner:
- Do you specialize in working with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)? Cisco has a network of certified partners who specifically focus on providing technology solutions and support to SMBs. Many of these partners are SMBs themselves, so they understand the business challenges you face and the goals you have in mind. Cisco certified partners have proven their qualifications in specialized technologies. They have the training, support, and services to design, deploy, and optimize networking solutions for your business. They also stay up to date on the latest software and hardware changes as well as upcoming Cisco products and solutions.
- What do I need to add to my network? A Cisco partner can discuss your business requirements and evaluate your current systems and network infrastructure. From there, a Cisco Partner can present solution options that will meet your needs today, grow with your business over time, and fit within your budget requirements.
- How can I minimize my overall costs? An end-to-end solution from Cisco is easier to maintain and support than a piecemeal, multivendor solution. Also, when budgeting for network enhancements, always take into account the cost of any software not included with your hardware purchases; maintenance; training; support; additional staff (if needed); and other factors. Research firm Gartner estimates such indirect costs account for up to 60% of an organization's total technology expenditures. Your Cisco partner can help you budget for all direct and indirect costs related to your network enhancements.
- What happens if there's a problem? Ask your partner detailed questions about the support he or she can offer after the sale. For example: Does the partner offer after-hours or emergency support? If so, during what hours is that support available? The specific support levels offered should be detailed in a service level agreement (SLA).
Also, keep in mind many Cisco partners offer an award-winning technical support service that offers anytime access to Cisco engineers and an extensive range of technical resources.
- What do we need to do to prepare? Before the installation, ask your partner what information—about your network, users, business procedures, and security requirements—he or she needs from you to make the network upgrade go as smoothly as possible. Also ask your partner what are the common oversights or challenges businesses like yours face when upgrading their networks, and how you should prepare for them.
Contact a Cisco partner to learn more and get exactly what you need.